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Saturday, December 7, 2019
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Breaking the stigma against Non-STEM education

Breaking the stigma against Non-STEM education
Ann Thomas
Q. What was the vision behind the launch of D-ART entrance examination?
DALHAM Foundation’s mission is to develop, promote and advance creative and liberal education. Only 27% students in India pursue Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths as careers. Yet what they have are streamlined information, clarity and the opportunity to pursue their goals with focus. 63% of our students continue to struggle with information scattered across platforms, channels and confusing processes.

We at DALHAM Foundation want to bring the alternatives to the forefront. We want to help students streamline their entry into Non-Stem education, help them with a better understanding of opportunities and provide them better and larger access.

Q. What are the non-STEM courses that are covered under this entrance examination?
We have over 250 courses that are currently accepting D-ART as a new way of enrolling students. DALHAM stands for Design, Art, Liberal Arts, Humanities, Architecture and Media.
DESIGN, without which aesthetic would be invisible; ARTS, without which the world would be dull and bleak; LIBERAL ARTS, which builds strong leaders, policy makers, economists and historians; HUMANITIES which leads to better understanding through exploration – of books, minds and thoughts; ARCHITECTURE, the foundation of our lives and spaces; and MEDIA, that informs, entertains and communicates. Would the world makes sense without these? No, and this is where we begin our journey.

Q. How many leading institutes are connected with the DALHAM foundation?
Though D-ART has just been launched, we have 50 institutions that have accepted the DALHAM Assessment and Rating Tool. The MoUs are being processed as we speak but to name a few – International School of Design, Ajeenkya DY Patil University, World University of Design, Chitkara University, Avantika University, Sanskriti University, IDeA Worldwide Fashion & Interior Design School, Jagannath Institute of Management Sciences (JIMS), DY Patil International University Akurdi Campus, Auro University, Institute of Design Environment and Architecture (IDEA), Nashik, Hindustan Institute of Technology and Science, Suresh Gyan Vihar University and Jagran Lakecity University are some names.
The fact that we have the backing of our Advisory board and the heads of institutions across India, is a testimony to the need for a streamlined and student-centric approach to our legacy admissions process.

Q. What is the application fee and the exam structure?
Students have to pay ₹ 4999/- for the evaluation. This cost includes a choice of upto three electives and two practice tests.
D-ART has two parts, the Human Factor and the Knowledge Validation. Human Factor is beyond domain knowledge or curriculum. It is about the person, their individual motivations and aspirations.
Knowledge Validation, of course, tests them on their understanding of key subjects such as Indian history, culture, economics, politics, practical application of science and general knowledge.
Most exams are elimination processes. They test you on knowledge and then once you qualify, you get an opportunity to connect with the person. We think a person is more than what he remembers during the couple of hours of testing. Hence our approach allows a balance.

Q. Why do you think this examination is crucial?
D-ART is an individual’s assessment of self. It helps them with deeper insights on what their strengths are and what they can improve at. It helps them understand the fields they can connect with and how they can use their potential to create a career path for themselves.
And if this score allows them entry into over 50 colleges that offer these courses then that’s an added advantage.
D-ART can help a confused student the necessary insights and direction. The test structure allows you to play your strengths up to your advantage. Also, managing multiple entrance exams in different cities on different campuses is painstakingly difficult, stressful and not to forget, expensive.

Q. What changes are required in the existing educational assessment pattern?
A focus on the individual rather than their grades, an approach that makes then future-ready, by which we mean, a constantly changing world. We need to encourage differences, become more inclusive and train our students to adapt constantly, rather than break down under pressure. And for this, our education and the systems as well as processes must be more open and flexible too.

Q. Why is it necessary for the students to explore non-STEM and vocational courses?
It is not about STEM vs Non-STEM. Both are crucial and have their own significant place in the world. Leadership positions need a good understanding of numbers. However, they also need to understand workforce diversity and cultural differences to solve key problems.
We need an open mind to understand the ‘human factor’ in every argument, in every context, in every debate and exchange. Even statistics without a qualitative understanding of the people, of the exchange, of the community and of the culture skews every data set we have.
And without the skill in critical thinking, conceptual understanding and perspective seeking that Non-STEM education provides us, we will be failing the young generation of students from being future-ready.

Q. How many students are inclined towards it?
We are only at the beginning of our student outreach but the feedback we have received from the community has been overwhelming. Teachers, parents, principals across schools have told us about how crucial and necessary it is to break the stigma against Non-STEM education. Most are surprised, that we have taken so long to come up with something so pivotal yet basic.
But tell me, one exam to get insights about yourself and access over 250 programs – would you hold back

D-art test centres:

1. Guwahati 2. Shillong 3. Jammu
4. Ludhiana 5. Shimla 6. Dehradun
7. Chandigarh 8. Delhi 9. Jaipur
10. Lucknow 11. Kolkata 12. Ahmedabad
13. Nagpur 14. Mumbai 15. Pune
16. Hyderabad 17. Vishakhpatnam 18. Panaji
19. Bangalore 20. Chennai 21. Coimbatore
22. Cochin 23. Thiruvananthapuram 24. Rajkot
25. Indore 26. Patna 27. Jodhpur
28. Pondicherry 29. Srinagar 30. Raipur

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